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Breastfeeding provides a nutritious, easily digestible food when a sick child loses his or her appetite for other foods. Continued breastfeeding during diarrhea reduces dehydration, the severity and duration of diarrhoea, and the risk of malnutrition.  Provides total food security: Breast milk is a hygienic source of food with the right amount of energy, protein, fat, vitamins, and other nutrients for infants in the first six months. It cannot be duplicated. It is the only safe and reliable source of food for infants in an emergency.  Meets all water requirements Breast milk, is 88 percent water.

Studies show that healthy, exclusively breastfed infants under 6 months old do not need additional fluids, even in countries with extremely high temperatures and low humidity. Offering water before six months of age reduces breast milk intake, interferes with full absorption of breast milk nutrients, and increases the risk of illness from contaminated water and feeding bottles.

Optimizes child’s physical and mental growth and development Infants fed breast milk show higher developmental scores as toddlers and higher IQs as children than those who are not fed breast milk. It supplies key nutrients that are critical for health, growth, and development Benefits for women Benefits maternal health reduces the mother’s risk of fatal postpartum hemorrhage and premenopausal breast and ovarian cancer. Frequent and exclusive breastfeeding contributes to a delay in the return of fertility and helps protect women against anemia by conserving iron.  Bonds mother and child Provides frequent interaction between mother and infant, fostering emotional bonds, a sense of security, and stimulus to the baby’s developing brain.

Saves money Families save money that would have been spent to treat illnesses due to contaminated and inadequate breast milk substitutes. It eliminates dependence on costly breast milk substitutes, feeding equipment, and fuel for preparation. Protects the environment Breast milk is a naturally renewable, sustainable resource that requires no fuel for preparation, packaging, shipping, or disposal.

 

Source: The Vanguard

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